By Ryan Decker, Originally published for West Virginia Illustrated
WVU boasts the second-best scoring offense (92.6) and the best scoring defense (58.1) in the Big 12. Meanwhile, the Highlanders are scoring under 65 points per game, and are giving up eleven more points than they score on average.
The two teams have been going in opposite directions over their last five contests.
Since defeating Stetson in overtime on Black Friday, Radford has lost three of its five games, including being blown out by 45 points in Chapel Hill against then-No. 3 North Carolina.
On the other hand, since suffering its only loss of the season to Temple in New York, WVU has played some of its best basketball, upsetting then-No. 6 Virginia and then registering three straight lopsided victories including on Saturday against UMKC.
Four of the five starters and three WVU players off the bench finished the game in double figures against the Kangaroos as Nathan Adrian led the way with 13 points.
Adrian is the second-leading scorer for the Mountaineers, and paces the team with just over six rebounds per contest.
Sophomore Esa Ahmad has continued his hot start to the year, as his 12 points against UMKC counted for the seventh game this season he’s scored in double figures, which more than triples the number of games he accomplished that a season ago.
Ahmad scored a career-high 19 points in back-to-back games earlier this year.
Ed Polite Jr. is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Highlanders, averaging a double-double of 10.2 points and 10.1 boards per contest. He also leads the team in steals, having picked a ball handler’s pocket 17 times this year.
The Highlanders have had troubles holding onto the ball themselves, though, committing seventeen turnovers a game as a team.
Radford’s defense as a whole has not been as successful as Polite has been at turning the other team over. As a unit, the Highlander offense commits four more turnovers per contest and the defense creates.
That’s not the characteristic a team wants to have, especially when going up against this Press Virginia defense.
Caleb Tanner is head coach Mike Jones’ best sharp shooter, knocking down nearly 40 percent of his 3-pointers this season.
Radford and West Virginia do have one common opponent, as both have played against and defeated the Virginia Military Institute.
The Highlanders downed VMI by seven with Tanner leading the way with 17 points behind 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arch.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Morgantown.